How do you love your lentils?

I have something to confess. While I have been a big fan of lentils for years, I only just realized yesterday that I’ve been missing out on some truly great culinary opportunities with these little nutritional powerhouses. Like many people, I’ve long been adding lentils to soups, stews and sauces, feeling good about feeding my meat-loving family some seriously tasty, healthy vegetarian dishes. As part of a great new national campaign to promote one of Canada’s most important crops, I learned a whole lot about the versatility of lentils yesterday. The campaign is the clever and delicious FundeLentil Tour, organized by Canadian Lentils. I can’t wait to share news of the fabulous FundeLentil contest, but first, a few facts:

  • Canada is the world’s largest producer of lentils
  • 95% of Canada’s lentils are grown in Saskatchewan
  • There are over 5000 lentil farmers in Canada
  • Canadian farmers planted over 3 million acres of lentils last year, yielding 1.84 million tons of lentils
  • Canada is the world’s largest exporter of lentils.

So now it’s time for some lentil love, and that’s where the FundeLentil contest comes in. This month, 24 restaurants across Canada are showcasing lentils in amazingly delicious and innovative ways on their menus. Participating cities include Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Saskatoon; if you’re ready to drool, check out each restaurant’s chef describing their dish. While you don’t have to taste the dishes to vote, your tastebuds will be very happy if you do! You can vote once per day until the contest closes on June 30th. The prize – a trip for two to any of the participating cities – is pretty enticing, don’t you think?

fundelentils image

One of the key players in this delicious contest is well-known Canadian food advocate Anita Stewart, who is also the founder of Food Day Canada. As she explained during our lunch tour, she helped curate the list of participating restaurants, selected not only to represent a variety of culinary genres but also in recognition of their consistent participation in Food Day Canada and their commitment to showcasing the foods of their particular regions.

Here in Ottawa, the four participating restaurants are Atelier, the Wellington Gastropub, Absinthe Café and Murray Street Kitchen ǀ Wine ǀ Charcuterie. Having sampled all four dishes yesterday, I have to confess I’d be hard pressed to pick a winner.

Atelier – Red Lentil Fritter with Duck, Carrots and Beluga Lentils

Chef Marc Lepine crafted a delicious dish in his signature playful style. I loved the dehydrated carrot "Roller Coaster" (his words) that was as tasty as it was visually appealing.

Chef Marc Lepine crafted a delicious dish in his signature playful style at Atelier. I loved the dehydrated carrot “Roller Coaster” (his words) that was as tasty as it was visually appealing.

 The Wellington Gastropub – Stuffed and Roasted Saddle of Rabbit, Lentils Braised with Beau’s Lugtread, Pickled Carrot and Mustard Sauce

Chef Chris Deraiche presents a flavourful rabbit and lentil dish; quick pickled carrot ribbons offer a great flavour punch.

Chef Chris Deraiche of the Wellington Gastropub presents a flavourful rabbit and lentil dish; quick pickled carrot ribbons offer a great flavour punch.

Absinthe – Moroccan Lentil Harira with a Bacon-wrapped Quail Stuffed with Dried Fruits and Pistachios

The featured lentil dish at Absinthe is composed of a delightful blend of flavours and textures that just might see you mopping your plate with their terrific house-made foccacia.

The featured lentil dish created by Chef Pat Garland at Absinthe is composed of a delightful blend of flavours and textures that just might see you mopping your plate with their terrific house-made foccacia.

Murray Street – Lentil Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Chef Steve Mitton's VegHerders (Shepherds) Pie is so popular, it's been on the menu at Murray Street for over a year and fans won't let him take it off.

Chef Steve Mitton’s VegHerders (Shepherds) Pie is so popular, it’s been on the menu at Murray Street for over a year and fans won’t let him take it off.

I am feeling more than a little inspired after yesterday’s FundeLentils Tour in Ottawa and can’t wait to get creative with lentils in my own kitchen.  In the meantime, you can click the links below to check out a few of the tasty lentil dishes my family currently enjoys:

Lentil-Barley Stew

Luscious Lentil Soup

Lentil-Sweet Potato Soup

Disclaimer: On the Ottawa leg of the FundeLentils tour, I was a grateful guest of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers/Canadian Lentils, however all opinions expressed are my own.

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About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
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2 Responses to How do you love your lentils?

  1. spicewife says:

    thanks for sharing about lentils — i also have been increasing my meal with lentils, and loving them!!

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